I have stumbled upon a passage in Scriptures (KJV) that spoke about a couple of "lion men" of Moab or specifically, "Ariels" that were killed along with a lion in 2 Samuel 23:20:

[2Sa 23:20 KJV] 20 And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man, of Kabzeel, who had done many acts, he slew two lionlike men ("Ariels") of Moab: he went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow:

LXX καὶ Βαναιας υἱὸς Ιωδαε ἀνὴρ αὐτὸς πολλοστὸς ἔργοις ἀπὸ Καβεσεηλ καὶ αὐτὸς ἐπάταξεν τοὺς δύο υἱοὺς Αριηλ τοῦ Μωαβ καὶ αὐτὸς κατέβη καὶ ἐπάταξε τὸν λέοντα ἐν μέσῳ τοῦ λάκκου ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῆς χιόνος

וּבְנָיָ֨הוּ בֶן־יְהֹויָדָ֧ע בֶּן־אִֽישׁ־חי רַב־פְּעָלִ֖ים מִֽקַּבְצְאֵ֑ל ה֣וּא הִכָּ֗ה אֵ֣ת שְׁנֵ֤י אֲרִאֵל֙ מֹואָ֔ב וְ֠הוּא יָרַ֞ד וְהִכָּ֧ה אֶֽת־האריה בְּתֹ֥וךְ הַבֹּ֖אר בְּיֹ֥ום הַשָּֽׁלֶג׃

In your discovery and inductive reasoning of Scriptures, what do you make of who these Ariels to be?

Scope Questions:

  1. Are the Ariels lion/men hybrid (genetics-alterations)?
  2. If so, what is origin of the Ariels (Scriptures verses and other sources)?
  3. How did they end up in the land of Moab?
  4. Why were these creatures killed along with the lion?
  5. Based on 2 Samuel 23:20, it specifies that the lion men or Ariels were killed along with a lion, does it imply that they were genetically modified or is it about their characteristics in their fighting styles and strategy?
  6. Is there any other parts of Scriptures that talks about similar encounters with possible hybrids?

Thank you very much, please let me know what your research suggests!

  • 2
    Your question hinges on the meaning of אֲרִאֵל֙ ariel Strong 739in the Hebrew. 'Lionlike' is how the KJV translates the word, meaning ordinary men who fought like a lion - ferociously. If you are suggesting something else, you would need to provide evidence for your assertion.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 19:59
  • 1
    Some other Bible translations say "sons of Ariel" instead of "lionlike men"
    – 4castle
    Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 22:52

3 Answers 3


The word you translate as lion men (אֲרִאֵל, 'ari'el) also appears with different spellings in Isaiah 29:1,7 (as a reference to Jerusalem, possibly playing on its meaning as Temple/altar which was in Jerusalem), spelled אֲרִיאֵל, and a few times in Ezekiel 43:15-16 (as part of the altar in the Temple that Ezekiel saw), spelled אֲרִאֵיל. Obviously, this meaning doesn't fit in the context here: Benaiah's brave act couldn't be striking altars.

I think a better explanation would be connecting these אֲרִאֵל of Moab to the אֶרְאֶלָּם of Isaiah 33:7.

Listen! the valiant (אֶרְאֶלָּם) cry in the streets; the envoys of peace weep bitterly. (NRSV)

The אֲרִאֵל in this passage is spelled the same (consonantally) as the word אֶרְאֶל 'er'el in Isaiah 33:7, unlike all the other instances of the word. (Also, this spelling should rule out any etymological connection to אַרְיֵה 'arye or אֲרִי 'ari, meaning lion, since the letter י should appear in its derivatives, as in the plural אֲרָיוֹת in 2 Kings 17:25.) It is thus probably better to understand the word in this passage as meaning "valiant."

He struck the two valiant men of Moab is a much more logical translation for 2 Samuel 23:20 than two lion-men or two altars.

(In the Mesha Stone, written in the Moabite language, another dialect of Hebrew, Mesha also claims to have taken in captivity the אראל דודה 'r'l dwdh. What exactly this means is disputed, but one interpretation takes the same word אראל to mean a warrior. If this is the case, it would make sense why a Moabite word is used to describe the Moabite warriors whom Benaiah killed.)

  • Excellent answer. I especially like your observation from Mesha Stele. +1
    – bach
    Commented Dec 30, 2018 at 0:13

Your question does seem to have some implications, which probably unlike most people here, I actually would agree are viable. However, I want to ask you to take a step back with me as we look into all the possibilities.

The word in Hebrew for lion is אַרְיֵה. Take Hosea 11:10(a) for example:

...אַחֲרֵ֧י יְהוָ֛ה יֵלְכ֖וּ כְּאַרְיֵ֣ה יִשְׁאָ֑ג They shall go after the Lord, he will roar like a lion...

This word is clearly related to the word used in 2 Samuel 23:20:

...הִכָּ֗ה אֵ֣ת שְׁנֵ֤י אֲרִאֵל֙ מוֹאָ֔ב... ...he slew the two אֲרִאֵל֙ (Arieyl/Ariel) of Moab...

Now here's what's interesting. What it seems that we have is a compound word, that is actually very common in Hebrew. Ezekiel, Michael, Gabriel, etc, all have the "-el" ending, which is actually the word for "God" combined with another word before it. So Ezeki-el means "God strengthens", Micha-el means "who is like God" or "who is God", etc. etc.

So, It seems that Ariel should mean something like "Lion of God".

You also need to note that the KJV doesn't actually do a good job of translating here. The word "Ariel" is singular. A better translation would actually be "the two men ["men" is implied] of Ariel-Moab", since "two" is grammatically in contruct to Ariel and Moab which are both the grammatical absolute state and seem to be in apposition to each other. Or, perhaps "the two men of Ariel of Moab" could also be acceptable.

In other words, Ariel-Moab could be a place name, or the name of a person, or an angel/god [lower-case 'g'].

Take a look at Isaiah 29:1:

"Woe to you, Ariel, Ariel, the city where David settled! Add year to year and let your cycle of festivals go on."

Clearly here Ariel is a location. So you have to keep that open as a possibility here...

I added "god" as a possibility because it is very clear from 2nd Temple Judiasim that these -el entities were viewed that way. If it is the name of a god, then that would indeed suggest that the two men could actually be giants/nephilim, which would be similar to 2nd Temple Jewish thought.

With all of that said, it still seems like a stretch to draw such a conclusion.

It seems more likely to me that this is actually a place name. "Ariel-Moab".

Or, it could even still be more literally "lionlike men" but not mean what you are suggesting, but instead mean something along the lines of "heroic men of Moab".

  • The New American Bible translates it as "the two sons of Ariel of Moab", similar to one of your suggestions. Commented Nov 29, 2018 at 17:31

Its not too hard to decipher when we use the tools given to decern which bible youre reading from. Im using the KJV so I use the Strongs Concordance to help define words. As well as the Websters 1828 dictionary.. Ariel is made from two root words.. ar- ee' - which means Lion.. & Ale. - which means "god-like"

If you read the same story in 1 chronicles youlll see that these three warriors of David were killing at an astronomical level.. Like one killed 300 men by either using a spear or just "lfting it up" So they were fighting on a heavenly, almost not-so-human level. Now think.. If one of these three could kill 300 men.. And not feint from exhaustion... Why would the bible mention the men of that caliber fighting and killing two people... They werent people. The word that the bible uses to describe these men.. Is exactly what they were. Human mixed with Lion DNA. Hybrids. Rephaim I suppose.

Litterally like 2 or 3 verses down, this same dude is killing an Egyptian that is 7.5 feet tall And has a spear that is compared to a weavers beam! This is davids time. He litterally fights the phillitines in a place called "The Valley of The Rephaim"

  • Note that a concordance is not a dictionary and does not define words, it only gives glosses, and can often obscure idioms.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 3:37